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The Last Days of Pompeii (1926)
"Gli ultimi giorni di Pompeii" (original title)

 -  Drama | History  -  9 March 1926 (Italy)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Victor Varconi ...
Rina De Liguoro ...
Bernhard Goetzke ...
Emilio Ghione ...
Lia Maris ...
Gildo Bocci ...
Enrica Fantis ...
Julia's friend
Vittorio Evangelisti ...
Ferruccio Biancini ...
Carlo Gualandri ...
Vasco Creti ...
Alfredo Martinelli ...
Giuseppe Pierozzi ...
Enrico Monti ...


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based on novel


Drama | History




Release Date:

9 March 1926 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

The Last Days of Pompeii  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Version of Jone o Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei (1913) See more »

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THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII {Edited U.S. Version} (Carmine Gallone and Amleto Palermi, 1926) **
7 March 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

To begin with, my acquisition – and current viewing – of this one came purely by accident: the film was paired with the later 1959 version on a budget DVD (though actually advertised as being the even earlier rendition from 1913!); as for my watching it, I didn't consciously include the film at this juncture in my Epics challenge because of the similar WAR GODS OF BABYLON (1962) from the previous day – but, simply, because I was pressed for time (more on this later). To get back to the confusion over which 'primitive' version was included on the DVD, in all fairness, one would be excused in thinking this emanated from the 1910s rather than the last days of the Silent era {sic}, considering the exaggerated acting style – which had been all but surpassed by this time – on display. This, however, is just as easily negated by the brief and pointless instances of nudity in the film – not to mention the presence of German actor Bernhard Goetzke, best-known for playing Death in Fritz Lang's DESTINY (1921). In hindsight, I must admit that my exposure to early Italian cinema has been too scarce to pass objective judgment upon it!

Even so, my low rating of the film has more to do with the fact that it's a heavily-condensed version (lasting a measly 57 minutes) of the original, listed on the IMDb as having a hefty 147-minute running-time (presumably, at Silent-film speed)!; besides, the intertitles have been eliminated in favor of a droning narration in English (the epic film, then, seems to have made the U.S. rounds in this ungainly form). For this reason, it races through an elaborate plot featuring innumerable characters; what remains leans, predictably, towards melodrama: Boy loves Girl, Girl is under the spell of Magician, Boy also loved by Blind Waif and another woman (whose rejection leads her to consort with Magician in order to mix a love potion), a pagan Temple-boy sees the error of his ways and converts to Christianity, Magician kills the latter and is blackmailed by a greedy but unwise eye-witness, Boy (mystified by the drug) finds himself accused of the young priest's murder and is sentenced to fight for his life in the arena, Blind Waif (who's prone to atrocious singing and harp-playing!) finally sacrifices herself so as not to stand in the path of True Love, etc.

All of which, of course, leads to the volcanic eruption that's the true raison d'etre of the popular tale – a spectacle which redeems this version to some extent. By the way, Victor Varconi – who plays the part of the hero – subsequently had a long career in Hollywood as a character actor; as for director Gallone, he too kept on working steadily for many years afterwards (I have his CARMEN DI TRASTEVERE [1962] in my "To Watch" list recorded off late-night Italian TV, a modernization of another much-filmed source – Prosper Merimee''s "Carmen", which also inspired the famous Georges Bizet opera).

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